The indigenous population of Colombia, according to official data, is 1,500,000 persons, which represents 3.43% of the national population. 78.6% of the country´s indigenous population is concentrated in rural zones and 21.4% in urban zones. Out of the total indigenous population registered in Colombia in the year 2005, 796,916 inhabited reserves (57.2 % of the indigenous population). Growth in the indigenous population in recent years is notable, since in the year 1993 the indigenous population represented a mere 1.6% of the national total.

The Constitution of 1991 recognized the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and ratified ILO Convention 169 (currently Law 21 of 1991). In 2009, Colombia supported the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With Order 004 of 2009, the Constitutional Court mandated that the State protect 34 indigenous peoples at risk of disappearance due to armed conflict, and qualified that situation as “a state of unconstitutional things.” In addition, President Juan Manuel Santos signed Decree 1953 on 7 October 2014, which creates a special regime to implement the administration of the indigenous peoples’ own systems in their territories. For its part, the Congress issued the Organic Law on Territorial Zoning, which will define relations and coordination between indigenous territorial entities and the municipalities and departments.

The 1991 Political Constitution recognised the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and ratified ILO Convention 169 (now Law 21 of 1991). After abstaining from the vote on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the UN General Assembly in 2007, Colombia reversed its position and endorsed the UNDRIP in 2009.

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, The Indigenous World 2019

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